After reflecting from the World Social Marketing Conference (which I promise updates eventually) and reading Craig Lefebvre’s recent post “Social Marketing: Hard Power and Soft Power in Social Change,” I want to finally share some tidbits from my thesis paper that I presented as a poster session at the conference. As, I think it rounds out and puts a lot of themes together as I studied: the elusive concept of influence.
Abstract:This research project looks at the concept of influence within social marketing as compared to journalism and advertising. This includes examining these professions’ definitions, ethics, standards, and agenda-setting capabilities. Through in-depth interviews, a further understanding of how these three practices relate within the gray matter of the media landscape is pioneered, as well as better defining the role and influence of social marketing.
The Question of Influence
While the Information Age leaps into the Connected Age, the power of a free press is offered daily to start-up bloggers. Newspapers are downsizing. Amateurism is becoming the new professionalism. Online media producers replace today’s broadcast directors; all making the gray shades of influence between the information and its consumers a thunderstorm waiting to happen. Social marketing is in the business of change, whether it is behavioral change or attitude change, social marketing can also be described as the field for social change. But, how? In today’s world, who holds more influence to create these changes, a journalist, advertiser or a social marketer? How can one tell the difference? Is there a difference? And, do the professions work together? Could they? Should they? This research hopes to add to the discussion on the evolving definition and role of social marketing, using agenda-setting relationships to examine its influence and attempt to determine its position between advertising and journalism in the media landscape.
It is 1961. A time when questions were raised and hope diminishing as borders became gray and a rise of an international community emerged. Two Portuguese students were imprisoned for declaring a public toast towards their dream, rooted in an idea – freedom. Having their freedom stolen from them for displaying a human right of expression, a newspaper article was written, and with it, a movement spurred. This movement would form Amnesty International (www.amnesty.org). Social change is possible, and it begins with an idea. Social marketing is an increasing movement currently being expanded because of its foundation in ideas about positive change for the welfare of the public.
Though specific definitions differ, social marketing achieves social change objectives by applying the marketing mix of product, place, promotion and price. Currently, social marketing is used mostly in public health communications and is expanding in the realms of environmentalism, civil rights, urban renewal, public service and raising awareness of international issues.
Conclusion: The conclusion of course I can’t share here, but it involves what I found consistent between journalism and advertising, but interestingly, the field of public policy was drawn into the mix through the research as well.
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